1. Catch Your Breath: Losing your job is a life-changing event, a major transition characterized by many of the same stages that occur when there is a death in the family. After you’ve gotten the news of the layoff, allow yourself several days to calm down, absorb the news and organize your thoughts before putting your job search into play.
2. Activate the Layoff “To-Do” List: Within the first 72 hours of being laid-off there are several “must-do” items you should address. First, discuss the news with your spouse and children. As difficult as it may be to share this news, the sooner you get it over with, the easier it will be for all involved -- putting it off will only make matters worse. Second, review the separation package you received from your employer. This package should contain information about COBRA, accrued vacation pay, and any outplacement assistance your employer is offering. Third, send a brief e-mail to your business associates to let them know you are no longer with your company and provide them with your new contact information. Finally, file for unemployment even if you are not sure you qualify. It generally takes two to three weeks to receive a benefit check so you want to get the process rolling ASAP.
3. Develop an Interim Financial Plan: Without question, one of the most difficult aspects of losing your job is the financial uncertainty that suddenly clouds your life. While you can’t change the fact that your income has stopped, you can minimize the impact of the loss by making a conscious decision to actively manage your new financial reality. Using input from all your family members, figure out ways to cut as many extraneous expenses as possible. If you include the family in the planning process, you’ll find it much easier to gain their cooperation when it’s time to implement the plan.
4. Circle the Wagons: Unemployment is a bumpy emotional roller coaster ride. To help weather the inevitable peaks and valleys of this transition, surround yourself with friends and colleagues who think more of you than you think of yourself – their suggestions will inspire, empower, and encourage you to move on in the face of rejection. Seek out and affiliate with job search support groups. Interacting with a group of people who are in your situation and can fully understand what you’re going through, can be an invaluable aid in helping you maintain perspective and a sense of humor during your search.
5. Make and stick to a schedule: Successful job seekers master the art of managing their schedules. While it’s tempting (and occasionally advisable) to use this time to play golf or catch up on errands, don’t lose site of your main goal – finding a job. Looking for a job is a job and requires a serious time commitment to generate success.
6. Focus on the Positive: While you can’t change the fact that you’ve lost your job, you can change how you react to your new situation. Instead of focusing on the negatives on your life, take note of the positive side of unemployment. Whether it’s the opportunity to spend more time with your children, finally pursue a new career or simply enjoy the chance to take a midday walk, take time to appreciate the unexpected benefits that are sure to surface during this difficult transition.
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